Bent by Martin Sherman. A fundraiser for the Victoria Refugee Initiative. March 3-6 2016. Interview.

Bent by Martin Sherman. A fundraiser for the Victoria Refugee Initiative. March 3-6 2016. Interview.

Local actor Trevor Hinton (Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream–Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival; Waiting for Godot–Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre) is one of the core members of a group of citizens (the Victoria Refugee Initiative) who have formed a constituency group to sponsor a family of Syrian refugees to Victoria. The local professional theatre community is producing Bent, by Martin Sherman, March 3-6 at the Roxy Theatre as a fundraiser for the VRI. Trevor was kind enough to answer a few questions about the initiative and the fundraiser.

BENT a fundraiser for the VRI Mar 3-6 2016

How did the Victoria professional theatre community come to be involved with the Victoria Refugee Initiative?

The Victoria Refugee Initiative began after a conversation over dinner with my housemates in my home on Remembrance Day. We were discussing how we wanted to do something to help the thousands of families having to flee their homes from danger, into danger simply to have a chance to survive. Since I was not in a position to contribute financially as a core member, I decided that I would create an opportunity for the theatre community to come together to help out by doing what we know best—by producing a beautiful play.

The VRI is 6 core members and the family—3 children and 2 adults—they are sponsoring arrived in January 2016. The children are in school and the parents in language classes. What is the financial commitment (or fundraising goal) for the initiative? How much do you hope to raise through the production of BENT?

Our fundraising goal is to have $45,000 available to meet all of the family’s needs throughout their first year here in Victoria. If our production of Bent can generate around $2000-5000 towards this goal, I will consider it to have been a success.

What are the current most pressing needs for the VRI besides monetary donations? How can people assist?

Presently, the way that people can most actively help out is by coming to see the show and thus donating to the initiative. Beyond that, we are looking for anyone who may have a seven or eight passenger van available who would be willing to join our transportation team. Occasionally, we have need to transport the whole family, translator, core group member and driver to an appointment.

Theatre is what the theatre community does best, and it’s a wonderful way to fundraise for the VRI. Can you tell me a little about how you came to choose Bent as the play you are producing?

I first came to know the play in my final year as an acting student at UVic. The play was produced by Chelsea Haberlin (Itsazoo Productions) as her final directing project and I played the same character, Horst, as I am in this production. Since then, the play has stuck with me as one I wanted to tackle again. It is such a provocative and moving piece. Bent struck me as the ideal project for this occasion; the story is relevant to the cause, the staging can be minimal, and since all of our artists are donating their time it is convenient that the bulk of rehearsal would be between only two actors.

Who is involved as actors? (You held open auditions—are these actors people would know?) And, can you speak about the design team?

Bent will feature some familiar faces as well as some emerging, newer ones. Our director, Graham McDonald and I both drew from a variety of talent pools to put the team together. We have some actors theatre-goers may already know such as myself, Chris Mackie, Evan Roberts and Andrew Barrett and some they may be seeing for the first time, such as Dylan Floyd, Kiaran McMillan, and several others. Each of the actors were specifically selected and approached to play their respective roles by either myself of Graham, and we are grateful for the gift of their time and talent. Our creative and resourceful design team for this production are incredible. We have Patricia Reilly on set design, Theo Sherman on lights, and Freyja Zazu and Susan Ferguson on costumes.

Who do you hope to attract to Bent as audience members? Is it theatre-goers, people who have an interest in refugee and immigrant issues? Why should someone come to the show?

This show is relevant to absolutely everyone. It goes deep into very uncomfortable aspects of life we each face on an ever increasing basis. Bent addresses that part of ourselves that has to choose to see or ignore our own or others’suffering, to choose to love or to defend ourselves out of fear. But most importantly, it addresses what is created when, fear, blame and intolerance takes the place of compassion, rational thought and upholding basic human rights. Bent is important to see because it just about Nazi Germany and the holocaust, it’s about our world right now.

If people would like to donate but can’t attend—what can they do?

If people would like to donate, they can easily do so via the Victoria Refugee initiative’s website:

Is there a reason you chose to make the fundraiser by donation rather than a set ticket price?

There is. I believe that it is human nature to want to help one another. I also think many people make a habit of talking themselves out of it by believing they can’t. That can come in the form of saying to ourselves I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, don’t have enough time, and very often, I can’t afford to. We are eliminating that last option by letting people pay what they believe they can. If it’s five dollars or fifty, it doesn’t matter. It’s a donation to this beautiful family and what you give is up to you. Just get to the Roxy March 3rd-6th, get yourself a ticket and see this beautiful show and make a difference. Then I ask that you think about it, talk about it and dare to be the kind of person you want to know in the world.

Bent, written by Martin Sherman, directed by Graham McDonald
presented by the Victoria Refugee Initiative in co-operation with Creative Mage and Blue Bridge’s Roxy Theatre

March 3-6, 2016 at the Roxy Theatre in Quadra Village.
March 3-5 at 8pm
March 5/6 at 2pm
Tickets by donation in support of the Victoria Refugee Initiative

At the matinee showing on Sunday, March 6 there will be a Silent Auction
featuring items from various local businesses. The Silent Auction will open when the doors open and will close at the end of the intermission.

Martin Sherman’s worldwide hit play Bent took London by storm in 1979 when it was first performed by the Royal Court Theatre, with Ian McKellen as Max (a character written with the actor in mind). The play itself caused an uproar. “It educated the world,” Sherman explains. “People knew about how the Third Reich treated Jews and, to some extent, gypsies and political prisoners. But very little had come out about their treatment of homosexuals.” Gays were arrested and interned at work camps prior to the genocide of Jews, gypsies, and handicapped, and continued to be imprisoned even after the fall of the Third Reich and liberation of the camps. The play Bent highlights the reason why – a largely ignored German law, Paragraph 175, making homosexuality a criminal offense, which Hitler reactivated and strengthened during his rise to power.

This production is a part of the VRI’s fundraising work in cooperation with Victoria’s professional theatre community in supporting a Syrian refugee family of five who have just arrived in Victoria. Everyone working on the show is donating their time, and all proceeds go to supporting the family.

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